Last week, the leading auto manufacturers reported their highest July sales in the United States in many years, driven by consumer demand for SUVs and trucks.
Leading the pack, with an increase of 7.8%, Nissan achieved record sales for the month of July. Sales of Nissan vehicles grew to 130,872 over the previous July figure of 121,452. Although car sales declined by 1.2%, this was offset by a 23% jump in truck sales while sales of the Rogue SUV leapt by 51% to 25,081 units and the Xterra by 11.5%. Total sales were slightly lower than the 132,388 units that Edmunds.com had forecast would be sold by Nissan.
Meanwhile, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV reported a rise of 6.2%, having sold 178,027 motor vehicles, up from 167,667 in July 2014. The Jeep brand saw sales increase by 23% to 73,216 vehicles. Chrysler sales were up by 10% on the back of a huge increase of 85% over the previous year in sales of the midsize Chrysler 200 sedan.
Also, Ford increased its sales by 4.9% over the previous July, easily beating the forecast increase in growth of 2% from Edmunds.com. Ford Explorer sales grew by 27% while the revamped ever popular F-150 sales grew to 66,288, 4.8% over the 2014 figure. Mustang sales also showed a healthy increase of 29% over the previous July. Overall sales of utility vehicles increased by 13% while trucks sales increased by 5.7% which offset the 3.9% drop in car sales at Ford.
General Motors recorded its best July sales since 2006 on the back of the developing
trend for sports utility vehicles and trucks. The Chevrolet pickup, van and SUV sales increased by 24% while the Buick Encore and Enclave crossover models saw sales increase by 18%.
Fiat Chrysler also delivered a seasonally adjusted forecast for July that total vehicle sales would be at 17.8 million units to achieve the best sales figure in the past ten years.
The high demand for the less fuel efficient SUVs and trucks, driven by lower fuel prices, presents a conundrum for car makers as they face government demands for increasing vehicle fuel economy. Auto manufacturers have already begun lobbying the government to relax the rules that would increase the fleet-wide economy to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. This would require an annual improvement of 5% in motor vehicle fuel consumption.
The other factor causing concern among auto manufacturers is the high investment they have made in order to produce smaller and more fuel efficient automobiles that are currently out of favor with consumers.